This is one of our first (admittedly brief) looks at a revamped Mazda CX-5, or possibly CX-50.
Mazda’s best-selling crossover has been in its current generation for a few years now, and an update is certainly due. Rumors swirled last year that the Japanese automaker is indeed working on some changes, including a possible platform shift and a name change to “CX-50”. We haven’t actually seen too much since that rumor initially surfaced last summer, so you can bet these photos from our friend Adian piqued my interest when they crossed our inbox. Specifically, it looks like this prototype is roaming the freeways around East Los Angeles, not too far from Mazda North American Operations’ HQ in Irvine, California. Unashamedly, I’ll say I may be a little bit excited as TFL’s resident Mazda fanboy, but for the time being there’s not really any absolute information, other than a next-gen version of both the company’s cash-cow crossover and an updated, upscale Mazda6 sedan should be on the way.
It’s worth noting, by the way, that automakers don’t typically cop to model changes ahead of their official announcements, so analysis from here on out is speculation, to some degree. Take a look at the front, though, and that is unmistakably a Kodo design grille. Some reports suggest the CX-5 name will stay in its current SUV-like form, but a coupe model could run alongside this car as a CX-50.
What is there to see?
The second-generation Mazda CX-5 showed quite a dramatic shift in the brand’s design language from the first generation, and I was sort of expecting the same this time around. If this does represent a near production-ready model, though, to say the exterior changes are subtle would be a massive understatement. The grille is ever so slightly slimmer than the current crossover, while the real key that you’re looking at something new is in the reshaped lower fascia. The hood, for its part, also looks a bit more defined in its lines than the softer lines we see now. Around the back, there’s a better look at some new LED taillights, as well as a more squared off tailgate.
In other words, it’s different, but not so as you’d notice as a casual observer. The reason the outside looks similar to the current car could be what lies underneath.
Apart from the possible (if confusing) name change, the new Mazda CX-5/CX-50 could move to a new, rear-wheel drive platform. That drivetrain shift will reportedly happen in step with the Mazda6, as part of the company’s new “Large Architecture”. That would explain why, at a glance, this prototype does look slightly larger than the car it may ostensibly replace. Mazda’s been trying for years to move its models upmarket against the likes of BMW and other luxury marques, so offering a platform to match could woo new customers. Even a new inline-six engine could well be part of the deal, and I suspect that would be available on top trims. A 3.0-liter six-pot could be on tap, while the base models may still get the 2.5-liter SkyActiv-G mill we’ve known for the past few years.
Mazda did show off its new powertrains in late November, and they’re supposed to launch sometime within the next year or two.
When could we see a new Mazda CX-5 or CX-50?
Unlike huge-volume automakers, Mazda is relatively low-key when it comes to new product launches, with their most seismic shift being the CX-30 and the electric MX-30. As such, it may be awhile before we see official information actually work its way out — possibly sometime later this year or in the first quarter of 2022. The company did make a sweep of patent applications in both the U.S. and Europe in 2019, so what we’re looking at here could be the end of a slow boil, and the next wave of Mazdas meant to duke it out in the upmarket segments.